Netsafe Quarterly Report January – March 2019

CEO Welcome

The end of this quarter was dominated by the Christchurch terrorist attacks. Along with the tragic loss of life and devastating impact, the attacks also proved to be one of the most significant online safety challenges New Zealand has ever faced.

The Netsafe team worked vigilantly to help remove harmful digital content by working with government and industry partners, and by advising the many people who used our service or contacted us. We also provided tailored guidance for the Ministry of Education to support schools and kura and developed advice to help people understand what they could do if they came across distressing content.

We received just under 600 reports and enquiries relating to the attacks. Where we had existing partnerships with online content hosts our content takedown requests were mostly successful, but where we requested content takedowns where no relationship existed our takedown rates was significantly lower. This indicates the ongoing importance for Netsafe to develop strong local and international relationships.

One of the ways we work to improve stakeholder relationships is by co-hosting our annual trans-Tasman conference with Australia’s Office of the eSafety Commissioner. We bring leading online safety experts and practitioners from the region and around the world together.

This year’s event, eSafety19, will be held in Sydney from 11-12 September 2019. You can sign up now to receive programme updates and presale ticket information. Our members will receive a discounted ticket rate for this conference. If you are not yet a Netsafe Member you still have time to apply.

Netsafe has worked hard to achieve good online safety outcomes for New Zealanders for over 20 years, but I recognise we operate in an era of unprecedented technology innovation, digital disruption and always on connectivity. The team are working hard to ensure everyone can have a safe and trusted online experience.

Martin Cocker

CEO, Netsafe


Director Update

Helen O’Toole, Director of Operations

Netsafe’s Contact Centre performed an important role in protecting people from harmful content following the tragedy on March 15. Our first report related to the Christchurch terrorist attacks came in at 2.26 pm and they continued to come in at all times of the day and night.

In total, Netsafe received 577 reports about the attacks.

We worked closely with trusted partners including NZ Police, Department of Internal Affairs and the Office of Film & Literature Classification as well as online content hosts like Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove video footage and other harmful content related to the attacks. We also actively approached lesser known sites that were hosting harmful and/or potentially illegal content to establish whether they could remove it and thereby reduce its extended reach.

The reports varied from objectionable content to offensive content to threats to individuals or groups to hate speech. Many of these reports did not fall within the thresholds of the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, but we were able to process some of them through the full Harmful Digital Communication complaint process.

The team created new processes to cover the complexity of what was being reported and the high number of referrals to stakeholders to ensure we were responding as quickly and efficiently as we could.

As we’re still continuing to receive weekly reports about the attacks now, we are reviewing everything following this heartbreaking incident and working with key stakeholders to provide the best possible service for New Zealanders.

Quarterly Reporting

Report Overview

Between January and March 2019, Netsafe received an increase of 34% in the number of reports compared to the same period in 2018.






*  Comparison with January-March 2018

Reports by age group

Overall reports to Netsafe by age group.









Reports by gender







Personal Harm Reporting

Between January and March 2019, Netsafe received 1013 personal harm complaints. This is a 55.4% increase compared to the same period in 2018. Personal harm reports also increased by 34% from the previous quarter.

Reported breaches of communications principles in complaints under the Harmful Digital Communications Act*

57% Harassing

26% False allegation

22% Threatening

18% Disclosed personal facts

16% Grossly offensive

11% Denigrating an individual

6% Breach of confidence

6% Indecent or obscene

4% Incitement to suicide

2% Incitement to harm

* Cases often involve breaches of more than one communications principle

Scam and Fraud Reporting

Between January and March 2019, $2.2M in scam and fraud losses were reported to Netsafe.  In total 3,779 scam and fraud reports were made. Sadly 543 of these reports were of people losing money to scams. The average reported loss was $4,051.


Scam & fraud snapshot








Top scam categories reported

58% Relationship and trust fraud

23% Product and services fraud

11% Investment fraud

1% Prize & grant Fraud

0.3% Employment fraud

Education & Engagement 

Netsafe continues to provide proactive and reactive advice to help New Zealanders take advantage of the opportunities digital technology affords. In this quarter, we developed guidance related to the Christchurch attacks for various audiences, continued to provide media commentary,  released the first of its kind research about image-based abuse, partnered with over 80 organisations and charities to support international Safer Internet Day, and directly engaged with 195 schools throughout the country.

Netsafe Media Releases and Public Engagement

Icon of person naked holding bra with censored areas

Image based abuse problem for all Kiwis

Media release: 23 January 2019

Safer Internet Day 2019

5 February 2019

Netsafe LIVE is in demand

Netsafe LIVE events are delivered to clusters of schools throughout New Zealand. Three Netsafe LIVE events took place in Whangarei, Wanaka and Waimea. More than 200 educators participated in Waimea making it the largest event yet.

Netsafe Research Releases



Image Based Abuse Report

This report was released in January 2019. It presents findings from a larger quantitative study about New Zealand adults’ experiences of harmful digital communications. The report focuses on the prevalence of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA), and people’s attitudes regarding different aspects of it. The findings described in this report are based on data collected from a nationally representative sample.

High level findings

  • Overall, nearly 5% of adult New Zealanders said they have personally experienced image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) online.
  • IBSA is more common among young adults, especially those aged under 30.
  • In general, men and women were equally as likely to experience IBSA online, but the research indicates that the nature of the experiences differ.

See the full report



Become a Netsafe member

Netsafe is incorporated as a society and a charity. Our national and international members represent a variety of backgrounds, but all have one thing in common – an interest in advancing the online safety cause. Membership is free and easy to apply for.  Find out more about being a Netsafe member or apply by completing our online form.

Report Data

The data in this report report represents the data available at the end of the quarter. Information related to the reports made to Netsafe reflect high-level trends, and do not include easily identifiable information about specific reports/complaints. 

If you have queries about the information in this report including, please email [email protected]

About Netsafe

Netsafe is one of the world’s leading online safety organisations. We are an independent non-profit that provides reactive and proactive online safety advice, support and education to everyone in New Zealand. By taking a technology-positive stance and using a pragmatic approach, we work to achieve the best outcomes for internet users throughout the country and are available to help with any technology challenges seven days a week.

Find out more about Netsafe at